Until recently, the worldly, sophisticated diners of Toronto were stranded—alone and scared, lost in the midst of a grape famine. Sure, you could order a cheap Beaujolais—in a cracked, rocks glass—at the local dive bar, or a heavily-gouged Rioja for a small down payment at the average Yorkville bistro. But where was the compromise? Thankfully, that was then. This is now. If the items on the flipside of the menu are more important to you than complimentary bread or mood lighting, you owe it to yourself to check out our list of the best wine bars in the city.
Bar Buca | 75 Portland Street
Not to be confused with its sister bistros in King West and Yorkville, Bar Buca, the equally charming Italian snack bar with unbeatable hours (7am – 2am daily) serves up a vast array of delicacies, pastries, gourmet coffees, and, of course, an expert menu of wines—ranging from surprisingly affordable bottles to splurge-worthy signature vintages.
Midfield Wine Bar | 1434 Dundas Street West
The ultimate downtown destination for connoisseurs, this Dundas West bistro is always fully stocked, and protectively manned by knowledgeable, remarkably un-snooty experts who are always up for recommendations. Just keep the questions brief after 8pm—this intimate space fills up pretty quick.
Salt Wine | 225 Ossington Avenue
Located at the tip of the Ossington strip, this Iberian-fusion restaurant is a cozy home for those who enjoy sipping from the best of the European continent (Portuguese and Spanish bottles are heavily featured) while set against a mellow mood board with minimal interruptions.
Archive | 909 Dundas Street West
An extensive selection of titles, shades, and regions—available at a reasonable pricepoint per glass? Yes, it is possible. Archive, just down the street from neighbourhood staple Midfield, is thankfully turning the Dundas West area into a mecca for red and white aficionados. Book yourself a table tonight.
Wine Bar | 9 Church Street
The reserve by-the-glass titles at this popular Church Street joint start at the higher end of the scale ($17 – $18), but they do come with a first class dining experience. Not willing to take the plunge? Try a glass from the standard house menu ($9 – $10) and feel just as important.
Skin and Bones | 980 Queen Street East
This notable husband and wife-run establishment, in the heart of Leslieville, is a worthy selection based on the quality and dedication given to the menus—both food and wine. An affordable by-the-glass wine list, combined with well-trained servers with zero attitude make this a top pick.
Hopgood’s Foodliner | 325 Roncesvalles Avenue
This west end Maritime-themed restaurant and oyster house is always packed—and for good reason. In addition to a mouth-watering array of nibbles and mains, the bar is home to dozens of bottles—red, white and sparkling—perfect for pairing with the catch of the day; or pull up a stool and nurse a couple of glasses just because.
(Main photo courtesy of Mohamed Aymen Bettaieb via Flickr)